The La Casa Latino Cultural Center was filled with students as they made their own ofrendas, or altars for loved ones who had died, learned about the significance of Día de los Muertos, Day of the Dead, and enjoyed refreshments like pan de muerto, Tuesday evening.
The ofrenda at the La Casa Latino Cultural Center was decorated with photos and memorabilia to recall and celebrate the lives of loved ones who have died. Orange and yellow paper marigolds filled the center of the altar. Traditionally, the flowers are used to guide the spirits of past loved ones to the altars with their vibrant colors and smell.
Separate celebrations happened at the First Nations Educational & Cultural Center and LGBTQ+ Cultural Center. Each had an altar to memorialize their loved ones who had passed. Participants recalled their favorite memories of family members and friends who have since died.
Junior Pilo Diaz said it is important to him to celebrate an event like Día de los Muertos because it allows him to celebrate his Latino heritage and family members who have died.
“The whole purpose is not to grieve, but to celebrate,” Diaz said. “We talk about them with our friends. We make sure that the memories are still alive and that they're still with us.”
The altar at the LGBTQ+ Culture Center was dedicated to more than 40 transgender people of color who have been murdered in the United States since the beginning of 2021. The First Nations Educational & Cultural Center dedicated its altar to honor the Native and Indigenous people who have died.
Senior Alexis Barbieri said the LGBTQ+ Cultural Center dedicated its altar to the transgender people of color who have been murdered in the United States during the past year because it’s a reoccurring issue.
“It is definitely important to remember trans people who have died due to transphobia because it needs to stop happening, but the only way that can begin is if we can identify that as a problem and talk about it,” Barbieri said.
Kain Ellet, the committee chair at the Native American Student Association said it is important to celebrate Dia de los Muertos and other cultural events, especially at predominately white institutions such as IU.
“I think it's important just to show that we're here, that we have a presence here and we're not something that's in the background,” Ellet said. “We're not characters. We're not something in a history book or some textbook. We're real living people. We're living cultures and it's important for us to be recognized.”
Freshman Ashly Lopez said her family who originated from Mexico did not typically celebrate the holiday once they came to the United States.
“This event allows me to understand a little more about culture and feel more connected to a community,” Lopez said.